The Good Life - Album of the Year

The Good Life
Album of the Year

(Saddle Creek)

T.J. Simon's #1 album for 2004

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10

Written by T.J. Simon


The Good Life is the emo-pop outlet for Tim Kasher, lead singer and songwriter for the Omaha-based, alt-rock collective Cursive. In essence, the side project allows him to tone down the volume of his main ensemble in order to deliver acoustic guitar-oriented confessionals that explore the ins and outs of romance. His latest effort Album of the Year is a conceptual piece with each of its dozen tracks signifying a calendar month that features Kasherís romantic reflections on the season.

The alluring title track opens with insightful lyrics, smooth vocals, and a sparse arrangement that recalls R.E.M. sprinkled with a dash of The Cure and a whole lot of Bright Eyes ó minus the cloying vocals. The best cuts (Youíre Not You, Under a Honeymoon, Inmates) draw upon a similar formula of acoustic beginnings that change tempo, add instrumentation, and finish as lush pop masterpieces. Inmates, in particular, shines brightly as Kasher yields the lead vocal duties to female band-mate Jiha Lee, and as a result, the song flourishes with its nearly 10 minutes of emotional exploration and heartbreak that invokes the spirit of Rilo Kiley. Another high point is Lovers Need Lawyers, a peppy tune in the vein of Belle and Sebastian, which severs the somber, sad-bastard ambience that much of the album exudes.

The Good Life is a rare side project that surpasses the artistís day job. The always impressive instrumentation is smooth and professional ó never harsh or screechy, and the spacey, U2-like guitars on A New Friend as well as the horns that conclude Under a Honeymoon are stand-out examples of Kasherís exquisite sense of songcraft. While Album of the Year isnít a hook-heavy pop outing, it also isnít mere background music because Kasherís super-smart and insightful lyrics serve as the anchor that holds this truly remarkable effort together. starstarstarstar Ĺ

Album of the Year is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2004 The Music Box